One of the next strong runners to take over the non-FA multi-year contract baton of Park Se-woong (Lotte Giants) and Koo Chang-mo (NC Dinos) is Oh Ji-hwan (32, LG Twins). Cha Myung-seok, general manager of LG proudly said, “We plan to pursue a multi-year contract with Oh Ji-hwan.”
Oh Ji-hwan is an irreplaceable shortstop for LG. He joined LG in 2009 after receiving the first nomination and became the main shortstop the following year, and has maintained that position for over 13 years. Although he was criticized for not living up to expectations in the early days of his joining, he has recently established himself as the league’s best shortstop in ball, defense, and state. He shows off his big defense with a wide range of defense and a strong arm. Even his toughest batted balls are handled softly and effortlessly.
Attack power also improved. He recorded the most home runs (25) and RBIs (87) in a single season in 142 games this season. Based on his slugging power (0.470), his clutch ability (11 final hits, tied for 6th) and scoring position batting average (0.320) are also excellent.
His strong body is also a strength. He was third in innings defensively by an infielder all season (1167). He took over as captain this season and led LG’s club record for the most wins (87 wins) in one season. Earlier this month, he won his first personal Golden Glove (shortstop category). These factors lead to the rise of Oh Ji-hwan’s ransom and popularity.
If Oh Ji-hwan goes to the market after becoming a free agent after the end of next year’s season, he is highly likely to receive a strong call from other clubs. LG plans to retain ‘Franchise Star’ Oh Ji-hwan in advance. General manager Cha said, “We plan to discuss a multi-year contract with Oh Ji-hwan around January. If possible, we will try to sign a contract before the spring camp.”토토
In this free agent market, LG did not catch key players such as Yoo Kang-nam (Lotte, 4 years total of 8 billion won), Chae Eun-seong (Hanwha Eagles, 6 years total of 9 billion won) and Lee Hyung-jong (Kiwoom Heroes, 4 years total of 2 billion won). This is because there is a risk of exceeding the salary cap (total annual salary cap), and future contracts with Oh Ji-hwan and Ko Woo-suk are in mind. It was a choice and focus in an environment where investment was limited and limited.
In LG, there is no precedent for non-FA multi-year contracts yet. Oh Ji-hwan exercised his FA rights once in the winter of 2019 and signed a contract with LG for a total of 4 billion won over 4 years. At the time, even with this contract, criticism of ‘overpay’ followed, but Oh Ji-hwan overcame it with his skills. Oh Ji-hwan, while revealing his regret about the FA contract at the time, gritted his teeth, saying, “I will make sure to receive more in the next free agent contract.” Currently, the highest free agent price for a shortstop is Jaeho Kim (Doosan Bears) and Jinhyeok Noh (Lotte), with a total of 5 billion won over 4 years. It seems likely that Oh Ji-hwan will far exceed the size of the contract between the two.
Director Cha Myung-seok said, “There are many ways to sign a multi-year contract. You can cancel the free agent contract with one year remaining and sign a multi-year contract right away. We plan to discuss.”
SSG Landers Choi Jeong-ui’s 6-year free agency contract worth up to 10.6 billion won is expected to serve as a reference point. Even inside the LG club, there is an atmosphere of “will the multi-year contract with Oh Ji-hwan be worth 10 billion won?” The ransom soared to the point where super-large contracts such as Park Min-woo (5+3 years, total 14 billion won) and Yang Eui-ji (4+2 years, 15.2 billion won) broke out. Oh Ji-hwan also seems to be able to join the ’10 billion won club’. Director Cha Myung-seok added, “We need to adjust due to the salary cap system. We also need to listen to Oh Ji-hwan’s thoughts.”